National Commentary

America’s War With Its Dark Side, Part 2

nfbentonpicIt may be difficult to grasp the idea that the vicious, murderous cult known as ISIS is the brainchild of Western intelligence services.

How in the world can that be? Who would be so wicked as to allow such a development? Well, the nefarious world of covert intelligence ops is often messy, and difficult to control.

But ISIS grew out of the filthy petri dish that the George W. Bush administration, hands down the worst ever in the history of the U.S., planted in Iraq over a decade ago.

If it can help the Obama administration figure out how to contain and defeat ISIS by shining some sunlight beneath the rock under which ISIS and the CIA have been co-habitating, then this is important.

By appearances, ISIS functions like a classic cult that uses brainwashing as its essential component. Cults go way back in history. They’re really nothing new at all, but it is safe to say that since World War II particularly unsavory factions in the U.S. and British intelligence services thought they’d stumbled on something new when they examined western POW’s returning from the Korean War and were enamored by the ways in which the Chinese had mastered the art of brainwashing.

A cautionary book and film were produced in the late 1950s, The Manchurian Candidate, by intelligence elements wanting to warn the nation. The Manchurian Candidate was about American interests accommodating Chinese brainwashing methods to their own evil aims against the domestic U.S. population.

Around the same time William Sargant authored an explosive book entitled The Battle for the Mind: A Physiology of Conversion and Brain-Washing. It included a subtitle, “How Evangelists, Psychiatrists, Politicians and Medicine Men Can Change Your Beliefs and Behavior.” In it, “Sargant spells out and illustrates the basic technique used by evangelists, psychiatrists and brain-washers to disperse the patterns of belief and behavior already established in the minds of their hearers, and to substitute new patterns for them.”

It marked the first time the core tenets of Chinese brainwashing, taking advantage of battle fatigue and “post-traumatic stress syndrome” symptoms among the Korean War soldiers by relying most heavily on theories of conditioning developed by the Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936), popularized by reference to “Pavlov’s dogs,” who famously could be conditioned to begin salivating even when there was no food present.

Sargant preferred Pavlovian conditioning theory because it explained how people can be induced to change their fundamental world views seemingly suddenly. In this model, the change is induced by an intense trauma to begin with, which causes disorientation, as individuals “lose judgment and perspective and react to a slight question or a major challenger with the same degree of irritability.”

In brainwashing, Charles Swencionis, Ph.D., wrote in a preface to a 1996 reprint of Sargent’s book, “trauma is applied through sleep deprivation, relentless pressure of an alternative ideology, and physical abuse. In religious conversion, the trauma is internal, a conflict between fear of hellfire and damnation versus acceptance of a new religion…Alternatively, pressure of a heightened emotional pitch can come from repetitive drum-beating, chanting, dancing and drug or alcohol use.”

This is a formula for the modern creation of cults, and the CIA went wild covertly forming and nourishing them domestically and abroad beginning in the early 1950s.

Sargent cites in a foreward to his 1996 edition the case of Methodism in England in the late 1700s: “Highly emotional preaching resulted in the conversion of large areas of the British Isles, helping to stave off political revolution at a time when Western Europe and North America were in ferment.”

It produced conversions “rather than intellectual arguments…by causing alterations in the subject’s brain function.”
To this day the U.S. legal system does not recognize that brainwashing exists: namely, that some persons can induce internal changes in the minds of other persons that those other persons do not willfully hold and that can cause them to adopt behaviors contrary to their own self-interest.

Only in the area of “co-dependent behavior” of battered victims of domestic abuse is something akin to this starting to be recognized.

(To be continued)